Though religion is deeply embedded in American culture, it is increasingly rare for journalists to be trained to report on religion. In light of political and cultural upheaval at home and abroad, there is a greater need than ever for religious literacy in journalism. Religion shapes the stories journalists tell, often in subtle ways that are not visible at first glance. By partnering with professional journalists and ournalism students, we provide resources and training to facilitate deeper engagement of religion in the classroom and in the field. In addition, we see opportunities for greater collaboration between religion scholars and journalists in order to improve the public understanding of religion.
Many of the most compelling news stories in the United States in recent years engage religion in important ways. The stories included in our case studies draw from a range of sources, including national, local, and social media. Topics include Black Lives Matter, Donald Trump and white evangelicals, North Carolina’s House Bill 2, Occupy Wall Street, Park51 (the “Ground Zero Mosque”), the Pulse Nightclub attack, and public debates about refugees, immigration, and national security.
The symposium on religious literacy in journalism was held at Harvard Divinity School on December 8–9, 2016. Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times gave the keynote address, providing an expert overview of the current state of the field.
► David N. Hempton, Dean of Harvard Divinity School
► H. Bruce McEver, President of The Foundation for Religious Literacy
► Diane L. Moore, founder and director of the Religious Literacy Project at Harvard Divinity School
► Stephen Prothero, C. Allyn and Elizabeth V. Russell Professor of Religion at Boston University
► Laurie Goodstein is the national religion correspondent for The New York Times
► Adelle M. Banks, senior production editor and national reporter for the Religion News Service
► Michelle Boorstein, religion reporter at The Washington Post
► Jason DeRose, Western Bureau Chief for National Public Radio News
► Lilly Fowler, associate producer at the PBS program Religion & Ethics Newsweekly
► Eddie S. Glaude Jr., William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University
► Eliza Griswold, journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, and The New Yorker
► Stewart M. Hoover, professor of Media Studies and Religious Studies and the Director of the Center for Media, Religion, and Culture at the UC Boulder College of Media, Communication and Information
► Jaweed Kaleem, national race and justice reporter at The Los Angeles Times
► Debra Mason, director of the Center on Religion and the Professions at the Missouri School of Journalism
► Nathan Schneider, Scholar-in-Residence of Media Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder
► Jeff Sharlet, associate professor of English at Dartmouth College
► Wendi C. Thomas, columnist for The Memphis Flyer and was a 2016 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University
► Diane Winston, associate professor and the Knight Center Chair in Media and Religion at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
► Angela Zito, director and co-founder of the Center for Religion and Media at New York University
► Lauren R. Kerby is the Religious Literacy Project’s education specialist and an instructor in the Religious Studies and Education Certificate program at Harvard Extension School
► Sarabinh Levy-Brightman coordinates and does research for the Religious Literacy in the Professions Initiative